Indonesia is famous as a diverse country. With a motto of "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" or "Unity in Diversity," Indonesia becomes the home of 267 million people and covers numerous ethnic groups, religions, and languages. Sadly, being famous as diversity country does not mean Indonesia society accepts diversity, especially in faith. In the past decades, local beliefs or indigenous religions have faced many discriminations in this country.
Indigenous religions are the terms used to define the ancestral religion of people that are native to particular landscapes. Back to centuries, in Indonesia, indigenous religions actually existed before the religions that are now officially recognized by the Indonesian government.
There are several indigenous religions in Indonesia, such as Sunda Wiwitan from Sunda Tribe, Aluk Todolo from Toraja tribe, and Kaharingan from Dayak Tribe. According to Subagya Rahmat (1981), indigenous religions exist because they recognized a power outside humans. Even though indigenous religion did not have a complete theological system like a modern religion, they still exist as a set of beliefs and way of life that is believed by local society.
Sadly, even though this religion has existed before modern religions such as Christian and Islam come to Indonesia, Indonesia's government does not recognize it. Until this day, none of the indigenous religions were recognized in Indonesia as religions. Indigenous religion only identifies as a belief in God Almighty.
Before 2017, the Indonesian government only recognized six official religions such as Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. As a result, in 1980, some Indigenous religions decided to categorize themselves as one of the Hindu branches. This decision was made to gain recognition from the Indonesian government.
At the same time, in accordance with the 1945 Constitution and the Decision of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Indonesia dated 7 November 2017 with No. 97 / PUU-XIV / 2016, indigenous religion believers can include the name of "believers" in their family card and ID Card, so they have the same rights as followers of the six religions.
But, gain recognition from the Indonesian government does not mean they will get recognition and acceptance from society. So far, Indonesia society only recognizes and accept six religion officially exist in Indonesia. As official religions, these religions gain a representation in the Ministry of Religion. These religions also have a space to express their religious practice, such as worship and celebrations. Then, how about indigenous religion?
As stated in the previous paragraph, indigenous religion still did not gain recognition and acceptance from society until this day. Some of the community did not well-educated about world religion. They cannot come up with a concept of diversity, especially in faith. Since our childhood, at elementary school, we have been taught that there are only six official religions in Indonesia. As a result, most of society did not recognize the existence of indigenous religion.
This taught caused a crucial issue that occurs in our society. One of the problems that occur is the dichotomy on 'official religion' and 'unofficial religion,' 'majority' and 'minority,' and other similar issues. Official religion that gains recognition has been facilitated by the government. In contrast, indigenous religion positioned as marginalized that do not have space to express their belief.
In addition, indigenous religion is a minority living in a majority society. No wonder they become a target of discrimination in society. This discrimination towards indigenous religion becomes proof of how Indonesia is failed to face intolerance.
Hence, the regulation towards religion should be reviewed. The government should do this to measure that there is enough space for indigenous religion to develop in this country. The government also needs to give justice to the indigenous religion. They should be fair and not only supports the official religion. Furthermore, the government should take part in protecting the rights of adherents of indigenous religion in Indonesia.
In the end, as a society, we should educate ourselves about the concept of diversity. Ola Joseph once said, "Diversity is not how we differ, but diversity is about embracing one another's uniqueness." As a society, we should try to respect, accept, and tolerate the differences. It is because diversity exists to make us learn how to be tolerant and appreciate all human beings.